Cosmetic Dentistry Services

While a dentist works to help treat and prevent disease and infection, many people choose to go to the dentist to repair bites, fix crooked teeth, or improve their overall appearance. While some cosmetic treatments have other benefits beyond looks, they are all designed to help you regain confidence in your smile. Common procedures such as reshaping, color correcting, or tooth replacement can be done by your dentist. However, if the procedure is more complicated, they may refer you to a specialist.

Veneers

A veneer is a thin piece of porcelain used to strengthen and better the appearance of teeth that are badly stained, misshapen, or crooked. They last longer and are more effective at protecting your teeth than bonding. Veneers are a permanent solution because a small amount of tooth enamel has to be removed to accommodate this porcelain shell. While your dentist will be able to match the color as close as possible to your natural teeth, it is not uncommon to see slight variations of color when you look closely.

The Process:

Receiving veneers usually happens over the course of a few different appointments: diagnosis and treatment planning, preparation for the procedure, and bonding.

  1. 1. Teeth are lightly buffed to allow room for the veneer.
  2. 2. A mold is taken of the tooth and sent to a lab that will fabricate the porcelain veneer. If you are uncomfortable with their tooth as is, a temporary veneer can be placed until the final one arrives.
  3. 3. Once it arrives, the veneer is held against your tooth to check fit and establish the shade of cement needed to match your teeth.
  4. 4. Your tooth is then clean, polished, and etched to allow for a stronger bond.
  5. 5. A special cement is painted on, the veneer is placed against the tooth, and a light beam hardens the cement.

It may take up to two weeks to adjust to your veneer. During this time, it is important to brush and floss regularly. Your dentist may ask you to return after a few weeks for a check in.

Teeth Whitening

As your teeth age and are exposed to things like caffeine, coffee, or tobacco, they can begin to become stained or dull. Some of these issues actually come from inside the tooth, so whitening toothpaste and flossing can’t help. Many people opt for whitening procedures from their dental professional so they can regain confidence in their smile. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, most people wish they could have whiter teeth over any other dental improvement.

While some at home solutions can help, these products have abrasive substances that if not handled properly can wear away at your tooth’s enamel and cause painful damage to your teeth. Their effectiveness is lessened even more on pitted or badly discolored teeth, so you may not even see results. In extreme cases, a veneer or bonding is the best option. For those who have staining and damage that is not as severe, professional whitening done in our office is the safest and most effective way to achieve the smile you want.

Types of Whitening Products:

Your teeth can be whitened in one of two ways – through chemical lightening with peroxide, or buffing out the stain with mild abrasives on the surface. Most often a strip or a flexible tray of a special gel are placed around the teeth for a certain amount of time. After you remove the strip or device, a second bleaching agent or special light may be needed to activate a chemical reaction.

Implants

If you are missing teeth and are uncomfortable with the idea of an appliance, a dental implant is a permanent solution that replaces your natural tooth with an artificial one that mimics its look and feel. A titanium structure is placed into your jawbone as an anchor the artificial tooth will be placed onto. It is common for implants to be the anchoring point for dentures. However, your dentist must first establish if you are a good candidate for a dental implant. For the implant to successfully bond to your existing jaw, you must have the proper bone density and a strong immune system.

After the metal framework is inserted into the jaw, a period of time is needed for the implant to heal and take hold as the bone tissue build up the device. Metal posts are inserted during a follow-up to attach the new tooth onto.

Grafts

Over time, gum disease, genetics, hormonal changes, diabetes, or other illness can cause your gum line to recede. While the change is gradual, a tooth that appears to be longer than the others is a clear indicator there is an issue. When root planing and scaling can’t reverse or halt the effects, a soft tissue graft can correct the problem. The tissue is taken from either your palate or another donor to even out the gum line and reduce root exposure.

Cosmetic Fillings

For those that have received a traditional filling made of amalgam or gold, or whose filling is beginning to look unsightly, newer fillings made from composite resins or porcelain can be used as inlays or onlays to improve the appearance of your teeth.

Bonding

Bonding is the direct application of a composite resin that mimics the look and feel of a natural tooth to make repairs, correct color, and reshape. It can be used to fill small cavities or fix a broken or chipped surface. Bonding can also be used to close a gap between teeth. While it is not as durable as other forms of restoration, it only takes one procedure to finish.

Gum Lift

Whether your gums have receded or you feel your gums are too visible when you smile, an aesthetic procedure called a gum lift can be used to reshape and correct gum lines.

Ridge Augmentation

If you lose one or more permanent teeth, the jawbone associated with that area can begin to atrophy (shrink). This often results in the bone becoming soft and unable to hold an implant. Today, we have the ability to reshape and strengthen the area through ridge augmentation. This procedure also known as bone grafting helps restore the natural contour and shape of your jaw. An implant can then be added to restore your smile.

Orthodontics

Braces:

If you have a misaligned jaw, crowded, crooked or missing teeth, or even just a bad bite, your dentist may recommend braces. Whether these things were caused by an injury, are genetically inherited, or are from a bad habit like thumb sucking, braces can help realign your teeth overtime. Typically, children between the ages of 7 and 14 are the best candidates for orthodontic appliances because their face is still developing and much easier to alter. However, while they may take a few extra steps, adult braces are not uncommon.

Braces work by applying continuous pressure over time to gradually move your teeth into the desired location and orientation. Small brackets made of metal or plastic are temporarily cemented to your teeth. These act like handles to hold an overarching piece of wire that is tightened and adjusted to move the teeth. Advances in technology have allowed orthodontics to use materials that are much more lightweight and more inconspicuous in coloring. People on average wear braces for around 2 years, but it all depends on your personal needs and situation.

To begin, a dentist or orthodontist will take a mold of your teeth, perform full X-rays, and create a plan for the braces. The appliances are placed and then adjusted once a month to continually move teeth in the right direction. With each adjustment, you may experience slight discomfort. Soreness can be treated with aspirin and if the brackets are irritating the soft tissues of the cheek or lips, special dental waxes can be laid overtop whenever it’s needed.

Once the braces are on, you must be diligent and follow a strict dental hygiene regimen to make sure that food and other debris do not get trapped in the wires. Staying away from sticky and crunchy foods will not only help avoid lodged debris or plaque buildup but will keep the appliances from breaking or becoming dislodged from teeth. While it may be more difficult, brushing and flossing are critical. Some people with braces find using a water pick helps maneuver around the brackets and wires.


After the braces are removed, teeth can continue to shift, so a retainer is used to ensure teeth remain in position. This can either be a bar permanently attached to the back of your teeth, or a metal appliance you remove while eating and/or wear to bed.

Invisaligns

Invisalign’s® aligners can be an easier alternative to traditional braces. They are discrete, have no eating restrictions, and are removable for easy cleaning. While the beginning steps are the same as braces and require molds, x-rays, and consultations, the adjusting process is much easier. Every 2 weeks, you receive a set of aligners that you wear around the clock, only removing them to eat and clean your mouth. When the two weeks are over, you replace them with the next set. Like with traditional braces, your teeth will slowly begin to adjust. The process takes between 9 to 15 weeks, but time and amount of aligners change from person to person. Visit the Invisalign® website to learn more.

Crowns and Bridges

Crowns:

A crown is a synthetic cap usually made of ceramic or porcelain and is used to cover the chewing surface of a tooth that has recently undergone a root canal, is decaying, or is severely discolored and a patient is looking to cosmetically restore it. They are both protectors and preventers. While they are often confused with veneers, they are different in that they cover much larger areas and can withstand chewing pressures.

Once the root canal is completed or the tooth is shaped to accommodate the crown, an impression is made and sent to a lab to create the custom piece. In some cases, you are given a temporary crown until the permanent one arrives. The final crown is later positioned and attached with a special adhesive. With proper maintenance and regular visits, a crown can last up to 8+ years. Things like not flossing, teeth grinding, and eating hard foods can significantly shorten its lifespan or compromise the adhesive.

Bridges:

A bridge, sometimes referred to as a partial permanent denture, is a natural-looking appliance that replaces a section of missing teeth. They help restore bite relationships and jawlines and protect exposed areas from gum disease. An anchor made of porcelain, gold alloys, or another combination of materials is placed below the gum line. A bridge made of fabricated teeth is then placed overtop them. While most bridges are permanent and can only be removed by a dentist, you can remove some types can be removed by the patient for daily cleaning.